Hunting show host charged with poaching in Alaska
Sep. 15, 2015
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The host of the Sportsman Channel hunting show "The Syndicate" was charged Monday with two felonies related to poaching in northwest Alaska.
Karen Loeffler, the U.S. attorney in Alaska, said at a news conference that grizzly bears, moose, caribou and Dall sheep were illegally killed in the Noatak National Preserve with the illegal kills ending up on the cable television show.
"The charges show five years of documented, illegal take of wildlife involving over two dozen big game animals," Loeffler said.
There were at least four hunts conducted for the show in Alaska over that time span, said Steven Skrocki, the lead prosecutor.
"All of the Alaska hunts that appeared on his show were conducted illegally," he said, adding they "were edited to appear not illegal."
Loeffler noted that various types of hunting, including commercial and subsistence hunting, is allowed in the preserve, north of the Arctic Circle.
"This is an amazing state, and what we have here is very inviting to people from outside and should be," she said. "We just want people to do it legally."
Prosecutors charged a host of the show, Clark W. Dixon, 41, of Hazlehurst, Mississippi, with two felony violations of the Lacey Act. The others who were charged, from Alaska, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Nevada, face misdemeanors or ticket offenses.
A message left by The Associated Press at Dixon's home Monday evening was not immediately returned. Sportsman Channel spokesman Tom Caraccioli said the channel has no comment.
Among those charged is Dixon's father, Charles W. Dixon, 70, of Brookhaven, Mississippi, and authorities are seeking forfeiture of his aircraft.
Clark Dixon is charged with taking a grizzly bear for a fee in 2010 without being a licensed and registered big game hunting guide. He's also charged with conducting an illegal outfitting operation since 2009. Prosecutors say he also lied about Alaska residency to take advantage of hunting privileges for locals.
Two production companies and another individual were cited for filming and airing video without a commercial permit.
Several personalities associated with Alaska-based reality or outdoors television shows have had brushes with the law, including former rock star and gun rights advocate Ted Nugent.
In 2012, Nugent paid a $10,000 fine and was placed on two years' probation for transporting a black bear he illegally killed. The kill occurred in 2009 during a bow hunt that had been filmed for Nugent's Outdoor channel television show "Spirit of the Wild."
Former Miami Dolphins running back Larry Csonka was fined $5,000 in 2006 for filming his "North to Alaska" cable television outdoor show on National Forest Service land without obtaining a special use permit.
More recently, Jim West, a hunting guide who appeared on Animal Planet's "Wild West Alaska," pleaded guilty last year to four misdemeanor hunting or guiding violations.
And the family associated with the Discovery Channel's "Alaskan Bush People" face residency problems on two fronts. The state has cited the six family members for illegally applying for the yearly oil revenue check residents receive once they meet certain requirements, such as living in the state for a certain amount of time. The family members also face minor citations for not meeting residency requirements for resident hunting and fishing licenses.
AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.